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Oct 28

A Honey of a Spot

Hi, I’m Jay Erisman, writing as a guest for My Wine
Education. I work at The Party Source, where I met Michelle and Kevin at our
wine tastings.

My wife Angie and I finally made it to Honey. It’s a shame it took us so
long, as Honey is just down the road from our home in Clifton, and we are
acquainted with chef and owner Shoshanna Hafner’s outstanding cooking from
various wine tasting events (including an incredible weekend with a group of
Cincinnati chefs at Murphin Ridge Inn last January; more on that later).

Honey was just the thing for a drizzly Saturday evening.
Angie staved off the chilly night with a pot of way-intense mint tea. We started with Honey’s House Fries, which
are three potato varieties cut quite thin and fried to tenderness. These lacked
the crunch of classic pommes frites, but the tossing of garlic and parsley and
chile-honey dipping sauce made them total winners. We loved these fries!

Angie was taken with the Smoky, Spicy Tomato Soup, which
went great with her crispy polenta plate. The polenta came in two slabs, fried
to a toothsome bite, with smoked mozzarella and cloves of roasted garlic
sandwiched between the polenta pieces. Oven dried tomatoes crowned it all in a
very autumnal take on polenta.

I was attracted to the walleye special for the Vietnamese
crepe that lay under the fish. I fell in love with the crepe served at Pho
Paris, and wanted to try Shoshanna’s version. The crepe is lightly eggy and
scattered with shellfish through out. It was an inspired counterpoint to the
walleye, which was generously large and perfectly tender, although the skin was
tough and hard to eat.
 
Honey’s wine list is well-chosen and filled with
food-friendly wines. There are a lot of bottles under $60, many from small
producers. I had a glass of the Bolée Tokai from Friuli, Italy, which went
great with the walleye. My wish list for the wines includes a less expensive
rosé ($30 is too much for a Vin de Pays) and some grower Champagne. Also, where
is the Bee’s Knees? Honey ought to feature a version of this classic gin and
honey cocktail.

Angie sipped a glass of Fonseca Bin 27 Porto (for my money,
the best vintage character Port on the market). We were a bit full for the
dessert menu, which was deep and wide with superb dishes—but Shoshanna treated
us to some three little tastes of her outstanding ice creams, a chocolate chip,
coriander, and a surprisingly tangy apple and cinnamon ice cream. The service at Honey was laid back, and our server impressed us as the long list of specials and desserts traipsed off her tongue from memory. The only beat they missed was forgetting the outstanding bread, a hearty whole grain from Shadeau served with honey-whipped butter.

One of the best things about Honey comes when you get the
bill, because this place is a bargain. Rent must be low in Northside, since I
can think of no place on the East side of town that delivers such superb food
at reasonable prices. Only two entrees were over $20. Plus, you get the
unmistakable personality and vibe of an independent restaurant. There is a lot
of sweet love oozing out of Honey. We will be back, and soon.

Honey on Urbanspoon

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 12:44 pm in Restaurants | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 26

Thank You

All:

I just wanted to thank everyone for your support and condolences. When I was speaking with some friends and family, one girl said, "My whole church is praying for you." When folks looked at me, I said, "I have the Internet." It sounds funny, but it’s true.

Through Twitter, Facebook, comments, and email, so many folks have reached out to me. Wine bloggers the world over, wineries, writers, regular readers, old friends and new friends, restaurateurs, and retailers … I’ve been shocked and amazed by the support in this awful time. I created a Facebook group and the photos and memories that have been shared are also wonderful and helpful.

It’s been almost two weeks now and of course, we’re all still grieving. Time heals all wounds, I know, but this is a gaping void where a vibrant young girl should be standing. Personally, I’ve bounced all around those 5 stages of grief, in no particular order, but I seem to be hung up in anger. Eventually, my whole family will move towards acceptance.

Krystal, who was all about living life to the fullest, would never want us to stop living our lives. And I know from when Kevin’s dad passed a month ago that in order to heal, you must continue to live. So as of Monday, I’m back on blogging wagon and ready to go. The regular Friday post, however, may not go up on time this week.

Again, I can’t thank the whole wine/Internet-related community enough for all your warmth and support.

Much love and cheers,
Michelle

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 9:52 am in Life | Permalink | Comments (3)
Oct 25

Riesling and pork

Hi all, Michelle’s friend Jen here. When Michelle asked me to post once or twice to this blog, I was just thrilled. Then I was immediately overcome by trying to figure out what I should write about. Do I try wine, even though I don’t feel like I have a great handle on how to write about it? Probably best to leave that to those who are more familiar with how to do it. Write about food? Well, that’s the sort of thing I can do, but how can I make it seem like it’s not completely out of place here? And then it hit me – talk about my favorite food, and link it to one of my favorite wine stories. Parts of this are taken from my own blog, but I can only hope Michelle won’t hold it against me.

There’s a joke that exists between my friends and I. If one of us mentions riesling, one of the others will instantly jump in with, “Oh, you mean the dessert wine?” This is a joke that I don’t find funny, as it refers to a time when I was right and everyone else was horribly, horribly wrong, but to be fair, here’s the whole story.

I spent 2006 living in New York with some very close friends. Myself and my roommate Lars were regular cooks, while the other two (Nathan and Matt) were, well, not. Lars decided that he was going to cook a comfort food meal for all of us on a Friday night. Pork chops, collard greens and mashed potatoes comprised the menu. The wine was left up to me – partially because I think Lars wanted to force me out of the kitchen, partially because I worked further downtown than everyone else, closer to our favorite wine store in the city.

“Riesling goes with pork,” Lars proclaimed to all of us. “Get a good German riesling.”

At this point, Nathan puts his foot down. “No. No dessert wine.”

Dessert wine? It’s at this point in our lives that we actually have a fight. A fight, over wine, and whether the phrase “dessert wine” means you have to drink it with dessert. It should be known that it absolutely does NOT mean you have to drink it with dessert, and it is perfectly suitable with many different foods in many different settings. You should probably try it with pork chops.

Riesling and pork are a stunning combination that I pull out pretty often. There are some combinations that get boring to me, but coupling a thick-cut pork chop with something fresh and green and drinking a generous glass (okay, two) of a good German riesling? Sign me up, any day. I recently decided I was going to perfect the pork chop, because most of them I’ve ever had have simply been unmemorable. It was also an excuse to bring out a bottle of wine that I bought at the great German riesling tasting Michelle invited us to awhile back.

Unmemorable pork, for the most part, until brining came into my life. Do you brine your pork chops? You should. I decided to invite my dad over for dinner, mostly because I like him, but also because I had this pasta dish I really wanted to make. We’ll get to that later. I had picked up three thick-cut pork chops the night before, so I decided they would go well with my pasta. (They did.) He was coming over at 5:30 and I started thinking about my pork chops at 1:30. Most recipes will tell you that you need to brine your pork chops for 24 hours. I got about five hours in on mine, but let me tell you, they’re the best pork chops I’ve ever eaten. A couple hours is better than nothing. Mine were even a little salty, so I’m not sure this particular brine would have been so great after four times as much of it. 

A brine is a basic liquid that you immerse your meat in. The simplest brine recipe consists of one tablespoon each of salt and sugar to every cup of water. For my three pork chops, three cups of water was enough to cover it adequately. After that point, you can put anything you want with it. I added some finely chopped garlic, black peppercorns and dried thyme. My five hour brine wasn’t really long enough to infuse them with flavor, but it was more than enough time to keep them moist. They were thick, so to avoid having to butterfly them, I seared them on the stove in a cast-iron skillet, then put them in the oven to finish them off. Delicious. 

The pasta, I’m a little ashamed to admit, is a Giada recipe. I’ve had a lot of free daytime hours on my hands, friends, so I’ve caught more than my fair share of her show. While I still think she has a television show because she’s super hot and bends over a lot, I’ll be the first to admit that every recipe of hers that I’ve ever made has been delicious. You can look up the exact recipe on Food Network’s website, but I won’t post it here because I definitely didn’t follow the quantities at all. 

In a food processor, mince up a few cloves of garlic, add in two parts goat cheese to one part cream cheese (I think Giada’s recipe allots 2 oz. goat cheese and 1 oz. cream cheese to every pound of pasta. I used much more than that, and while it was incredibly tasty, it was THICK.), and add in some baby spinach leaves. The result will be a thick, creamy green mixture. In a big bowl, lay down some fresh baby spinach leaves, put some just boiled hot pasta over it, and toss with the cheesy mixture. Add some of the pasta water if you need to thin it out – I probably should have. My version was delicious, but so thick and rich that none of us could finish it. Add a little fresh grated cheese on the top for serving.

This meal, while delicious, also gets to stand out in my mind as one of the easiest things I’ve ever cooked. There’s something to be said for how long a meal takes you to cook versus how delicious it is. The greatest meals are the ones that are amazing and took you thirty minutes to throw together.

Thanks for having me, blog readers! I’ll be checking in again soon.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:05 pm in Dinner and Drinks | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 23

Bell’s Brewery

Since Michelle is recovering and at a conference in Florida, this is Kevin and I’m taking over for today.

I’m always looking to try a new type of beer or brewer, so I have to wonder why have I missed Bell’s Brewery (formerly Kalamazoo Brewing Company) until early summer. Michelle and I were eating at the Cock and Bull pub on Mainstrasse, when our server recommended the Oberon. After trying a little of Michelle’s, we were both hooked and promptly proceeded to forget about it.

Then in early June, at Party Town during their beer tasting, we had the opportunity to try Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. A nice India Pale Ale (IPA) style beer with an unexpected lavender aroma and very floral taste. We stopped by the Microbrew aisle and picked up a mixed case of Two Hearted Ale, Oberon, Sparkling Ale, and Best Brown Ale.

Full reviews of all four after the jump….

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Kevin at 4:40 pm in Beer, Beer-Guy.net | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 20

RSVP: Another Wine Dinner! Barresi’s

Everyone has all these great fall foods that are crying out to be eaten and paired with excellent wine or beer. In this case, we have another wine dinner – this time on the 24th of October. I call this one out, in particular, because of its location. There are so many of these wine dinners happening – a good number of them are on the 24th. But this is at Barresi’s.

I have a soft spot for Barresi’s. First off, it’s in Deer Park, where I grew up. But it’s more than that. Deer Park was a small place, and one of my good friends growing up was the step-daughter of Sal Barresi. That means I spent more than one night in the kitchen, waiting with my girlfriends to pick her up once she got off work at the restaurant. The kitchen of Barresi’s is where I first tried things like calamari – quite the delicacy when you’re 16 and picky.

I got excited when I saw they’re having a wine dinner, and that it’s a pretty decent price. $65/pp for 6 courses paired with Antinori Estate wines. I noticed, with a smile, that the 6th Course cheesecake is named after
my friend’s mom. Sal and Odessa no longer own Barresi’s, but it’s nice
to know that the new owners are building on the established favorites.

The courses are as follows:

1st Course: Baked brie en croute with fruit chutney
2nd Course: Roasted pumpkin spinach salad with pine nuts and crispy proscuitto curls, and vinaigrette
3rd Course: Lobster fra Diavio"
over pappardelle noodles
4th Course: Intermezzo from Madisono’s Market: Fresh seasonal sorbet
5th Course: Roasted tenderloin of beef in Barresi’s gorgonzola cream sauce with mushrooms and artichokes
6th Course: Odessa’s lemon cello cheesecake

Make reservations by calling 513.793.2540. 

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Posted by Michelle at 12:01 am in Cincinnati, Dinner and Drinks, Food and Wine Pairings | Permalink | Comments ()

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